February 25, 1901

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The MINISTER OF MILITIA AND DEFENCE (Hon. F. W. Borden).

Mr Speaker, I am sure that neither my hon. friend nor the House expect me to enter into any lengthy discussion of the very many subjects to which our attention has been called this evening. I think, however, that the House, and probably the country, did expect, after what took place last year, after the well-known and well-discussed differences of opinion which occurred between my hon. friend and the general officer commanding, that my hon. friend on his return would make, as he has made, some statement to this House in reference to his conduct ; and I am sure that we have all been very well pleased with the manner in which he has discharged that duty.

I have no doubt that the country will be interested in the statement which the hon. gentleman has made to the House this evening. I do not propose to enter into any discussion. The hon. gentleman has acquitted me as minister, and also, I understand, the government, of any intention to injure him, or of having injured him in any way. The quarrel is one between the hon. gentleman and General Hutton, and the hon. gentleman has stated his side of the case. He did, at the opening, make a reference, which he corrected later on, to the character of the papers brought down in reply to a motion for a return, during last session, and described them as incomplete and garbled. I am quite sure, from the subsequent remarks of my hon. friend, that he did not intend that as a reflection on the officers i f my department, and therefore, I have nothing to say on that point. He also took some exceptions to the publishing of private letters, but later on in his speech he disavowed any charge of impropriety against myself and the officers of my department. As a matter of fact, as the hon. gentleman has said, General Hutton did place before me the letters which were brought before the House last session, and stated that he had notified my hon. friend that he had done so, and that those letters must be considered official letters in the future. And I may say in passing, that without those letters his whole discussion would have lost a great deal of its point and interest, and would be very much like the play of Hamlet with Hamlet left out.

I do not know that I should say anything with reference to the long legal opinion which my hon. friend read to the House, regarding the relations which officers of superior rank in the militia bear to officers of inferior rank, or privates. I am not a law-14

yer, nor have I studied as much as I ought the military law, but I am bound to say that if the construction which my hon. friend puts upon the military law of Canada be correct, then it is very necessary that law should be changed, because it would be impossible to enforce military discipline, and our militia system would be absolutely a farce. To say that if the officer commanding a district issued an order to have the rifles and equipment of a rural battalion inspected, and the captain, who had control of the armoury, refused to allow the inspection to be made, the officer commanding was powerless to enforce the inspection, is, it seems to me, at variance with common sense, and with everything I have been taught concerning the militia in the past. However, I do not propose to discuss the matter at all, and will do my utmost to bring down every paper to which my hon. friend refers. I am not quite sure whether I can lay my hands on them all, but if he will suggest where I may find any which may be missing, I shall do my utmost to procure and lay them on the table at the earliest possible date.

Topic:   EDWARD T. H. HUTTON,
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LIB

James Joseph Hughes

Liberal

Mr. HUGHES.

The hon. the minister says that if the law is as I have stated it to be, it should be changed. Well, I can assure him that when he brings in any change, he will find stern and serious opposition from one seat in this House at all events, if I happen to be a member. I never stated that the district officer commanding had not the right to notify the captain of a rural battalion that he was going to inspect the armoury, but I stated that he had no authority to oblige the captain to submit his armoury to inspection. I was not speaking of the district officer commanding at all, but of the officer commanding a battalion, who has no right, under the law, to inspect the arms of the company. But should the district officer commanding notify a captain that he is going to inspect the arms, and the captain refused then, as the law clearly imposes the duty on the district commanding officer of inspecting the arms, all the latter has to do is to report to the minister and the minister has power to retire that officer from the force. Therefore, there is no necessity for the hon. minister to amend the law. But should he bring in an amendment to provide that, I, as colonel of my battalion, shall have the authority to order any of my fellows, when not subject to military law, to do this or that, I assure the hon. gentleman that I will fight him to a finish. Once my men have done their drill, they are free men, and not subject to military law until they don the uniform again. The hon. the minister brought up the case of a district officer commanding, but I referred to the case of a commanding officer in Ottawa or elsewhere ordering one of his captains to let him into his armoury for the purpose of inspecting the arms. The com-

manding officer has no military authority to go there.

The hon. gentleman says he will bring down every paper. I assure him that he will not.

Topic:   EDWARD T. H. HUTTON,
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The MINISTER OF MILITIA AND DEFENCE.

All I can find.

Topic:   EDWARD T. H. HUTTON,
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LIB

James Joseph Hughes

Liberal

Mr. HUGHES.

He will not find all. It is currently rumoured that a great many of the papers have been removed from his department. A good deal of this is private correspondence-and I would scorn to bring down private correspondence myself-but inasmuch as the late general officer commanding has placed himself in the unenviable position of producing private correspondence, when it suits his purpose and convenience, I would give him the opportunity of producing such further private correspondence as would speak strongly in my favour, but I have no doubt it will not be forthcoming.

On motion of the Prime Minister, House adjourned at 11 o'clock.

Tuesday, February 26, 1901.

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February 25, 1901